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Full text of "The Interface message processor for the ARPA computer network"

Report No. 2003 
July 1970 
INTERFACE MESSAGE PROCESSORS FOR 
THE ARPA COMPUTER NETWORK 
QUARTERLY TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 6 
1 April 1970 to 30 June 1970 
Principal Investigator: 
Mr. Frank E. Heart 
Telephone (617) 491-1850, Ext. 470 
Sponsored by 
Advanced Research Projects Agency 
ARPA Order No. 1260 
Contract ?lo. DAHC15-69-C-0179 
Effective Date: 2 January 1969 
Expiration Date: 31 December 1970 
Contract Amount: $2,195,736 
Title of Work: IMP 
Submitted to: 
Di rector 
Advanced Research Projects Agency 
Washington, D.C. 20301 
Attention: Dr. L.G. Roberts 
-.. Telephone (202) 697-8654 
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eport 
No. 2003 Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
Section 
1. INTRODUCTION .................................. 1 
2. SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT .......................... 3 
3. HARDWARE ...................................... 5 
4. NETWORK TESTING ............................... 7 
5. NETWORK CONTROL CENTER ....................... 11 
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, Report No. 2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
1. INTRODUCTION 
This Quarterly Technical Report No. 6 describes several 
aspects of our progress on the ARPA Computer Network during the 
second quarter of 1970. During this period, we have installed 
IMPs Nos. 6, 7, 8, and 9, at MIT, Rand, SDC, and Harvard, respec- 
tively. AT&T has not yet provided circuits to Harvard, but the 
eight-node subnet is operational. The temporary circuit connect- 
ing BBN and UCLA was taken down and replaced by a circuit between 
BBN and Rand. A circuit that is listed as temporary was installed 
between MIT and Utah. 
We issued a fourth revision of the operational IMP program 
(IMPSYS 23) and called back the March 1 system. In addition, we 
constructed a second simulation program to study the effects on 
throughput of routing and anti-congestion algorithms. Our soft- 
ware activity is described in Section 2. 
Our primary hardware effort, described in Section 3, was 
devoted to testing, debugging, and field insta!lation'of IMPs. A 
slight modification was made to the terminating network in the 
distant Host driver. In addition, a potential hazard in the stan- 
dard Host/IMP interface was located and corrected. 
We conducted the second in a series of network tests designed 
to study the performance of the subnet under extreme loading con- 
ditions'. Our efforts were considerably aided by the helpful 
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Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
cooperation of several Hosts, including UCLA, Rand and SRI. 
Various aspects of this testing are described in Section 4. 
A Network Control Center has been established and is 
operational at BBN. Each IMP in the net reports to the Network 
Control Center every fifteen minutes or whenever important 
status changes occur. Our experience in operating the control 
center is described in Section 5. 
During this quarter, a revised version of the Host Speci- 
fication (BBN Report No. 1822) and the initial IMP Operating 
Manual (BBN Report No. 1877) were revised. As normal updating 
occurred in the program and hardware, revised pages to the 
Operating Manual were issued to the Hosts. 
2 
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'Report No. 2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
2. SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT 
A fourth version of the operational program (IMPSYS 23) 
was released during the last quarter. We have gathered con- 
siderable experience with this version, particularly during a 
period of intensive testing on the west coast, and are preparing 
a new and improved model for the next quarter. heae.s_.of 
uting and congestion are particularly troublesome, largely, 
because there has not been enough natural traf.fic in the net ? 
exercise our routing and anti-congestion algorithms.. We gener 
,ated artificial traffic producing 'massive congestion aimed. at. 
exploring the weaknesses of our algorithms, and are.consid'erin 
sch'mes to bolster those algorithms. 
Because past line performance is .a poor predictor of future 
line performance, we have mod_med the routing algorithm by 
deleting the use of line quality in estimating the delay to a 
neighbor. Although errors occur in bursts on the phone lines, 
there is no assurance that an estimate based in recent performance 
of the line will apply to the next interval. 
During this report period, the Trouble/Status reports to 
the Network Control Center have also been somewhat expanded. 
We have written a program that can simulate network activity. 
The purpose of this simulator is to test routing and anti- 
congesto schemes in real time and to measure their effect on 
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Report No. 2003 
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throughput. For this purpose, it is imperative that the simula- 
tion be able to run for reasonable lengths of simulated time in 
order to let singular cases occur. With the current ARPA net 
geometry and one Host generating as much traffic'as possible, 
the simulator runs about one simulated minute per real minute, 
or at real time. This speed is ouite adequate, particularly 
since it is programmed for the IMP prototype, which can be dedi- 
cated to simulation tasks for hours at a time. 
The simulator permits any reasonable number of IMPs in the 
network, interconnected in a user selectable way, with one Host 
per IMP. Each Host may send a fixed length message at a fixed 
repetition rate (or RFNM limited) over a fixed number of links. 
Each fixed item may be set before the run. 
The simulator is quite realistic, modeling IMP internal 
program delays, retransmission, our actual routing algorithm, 
and the asynchronous nature of the IMP clocks. It has one major 
difference from the real network in that it does not allow for 
the delay encountered in the processing of one message due to 
the interruption of that processing to process other messages. 
This delay is typically small (say, 1% of the total), provided 
the IMP throughput is not approaching capacity. In the current 
network, it is impossible to push an IMP beyond its computational 
capacity, so we do not consider this a strong limitation of the 
simulator. 
4 
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Report No. 
2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
3. HARDWARE 
The primary hardware effort in this quarter has been devoted 
to insuring on-time machine delivery from Honeywell, to thorough 
IMP testing and debugging in the BBN test cell, and to field 
installation. Comparatively few technical problems have occurred 
with the hardware. A minor problem in the Distant Host interface 
was uncovered and corrected, as was also a otential hazard in 
the standard Host/IMP interface. 
Discussions with Lincoln Laboratory designers uncovered the 
minor problem in the Distant Host interface. Specifically, the 
written specifications for the Honeywell driver card were not 
being met by their circuits. A circuit analysis indicated that 
an unbalanced differential signal would be produced and that the 
signal amplitude was not always sufficient. These problems were 
cured by deleting the termination network in the receiver and 
adding external resistors to the driver. A revision to the Host 
Specification (BBN Report No. 1822) that reflects these changes 
will be issued during the next quarter. 
It has become necessary to change the connector type used 
for the Distant Host cable. The connector type originally speci- 
fied has been preempted by a high-priority government project. 
This "mid-stream" change to the IMP, although a trivial matter, 
has been a considerable nuisance. 
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A potential hazard was located in the standard Host/IMP 
interface. A short delay was originally designed into that inter- 
face so that, following the receipt of the There's-Your-Bit signal 
from the Host, the bit would be accepted after a brief delay to 
allow for possible differences in transmission time between the 
Data line and the There's-Your-Bit line from the Host. These 
delays can arise from differences in driver and receiver speeds 
and from differences in wire lengths within the Host/IMP cable. 
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Honeywell flip-flops in 
the interface, the delay does not always accomplish its purpose; 
in fact, if a change occurs on the data line to the IMP after 
the There's-Your-Bit signal arrives, an incorrect data bit may 
be taken in. This flaw is easily corrected by employing an 
unused delay in one of the packages of the interface. This simple 
modification involving a very few wires has been implemented at 
BBN and will be retrofitted to all machines by Honeywell. 
The issue of retrofits has been a matter of concern for some 
time now, as Honeywell has fallen somewhat behind the original 
schedule. Although very little retrofitting has actually occurred 
to date, the plans to retrofit are now congealed. In addition to 
the retrofit addition of interfaces required to expand particular 
IMP configurations, the three are: replacement of non-ruggedized 
control panels with ruggedized panels at the first four IMP sites, 
a fix to reduce light driver noise in the first four sites, and 
a change to the auto-restart mechanism in the first six sites. 
These retrofits will be completed during the next quarter. 
6 
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Report No. 2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
4. NETWORK TESTING 
A second series of intensive network tests was performed 
over a three-week period on an eight-node subnet. These tests 
were designed to uncover residual system bugs, and to measure 
certain limits of system performance under extreme loading 
conditions. Approximately nine minor bugs were located and 
fixed. We were unable to push the IMP to its computational 
capacity, because the Host was unable to generate traffic fast 
enough. 
One interesting phenomenon observed during network testing 
was that in an iMP with steady state through traffic running at 
line capacity, there is no natural tendency for the store and 
forward queue length to become smaller once it has become large. 
In fact, by forcing a temporary imbalance between input and out- 
put, we were able to set this queue length to any value we wished 
and it remained there. 
We concluded the alternate routing experiment on a triangular 
net that was begun at the end of our last testing session. Eight- 
packet messages were sent from one Host, say Host A, to another 
Host, say Host B, on 16 links at the RFNM limited rate. The fol- 
lowing results were obtained as the limit on the maximum number 
of store and forward buffers (S/F) was varied. For S/F < 4, all 
traffic went out the direct path; for S/F = 5, 6, or 7, the traffic 
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Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
appeared to alternate between the two paths; there was little 
noticeable overlapping use in time of both paths until the S/F 
limit reached 7, after which the degree of overlapping began to 
increase. With enough room in reassembly for four messages (34 
buffers), the throughput increased essentially monotonically until 
the S/F limit reached about 3010. There was no further gain in 
throughput with S/F > 3010. With enough room in reassembly for 
1 message (10 buffers), the maximum throughput occurred when the 
S/F limit was set to 1910. The limiting value of 85,000 bits/sec 
that was observed experimentally is about two times the limiting 
value when the data travels along a single path. The maximum 
peak occurs because conflicting demands for the minimum amount of 
reassembly cause increased packet retransmissions to occur and 
hence increase the time to reassemble certain messages. 
Two curves of throughput vs. store and forward limit are 
shown in Figure 1, for a triangular net with half-second routing 
update. The upper curve is for a reassembly limit of 428 at the 
destination IMP (SRI); the lower curve, a reassembly limit of 1210. 
An experiment was performed to determine whether any sub- 
stantial interaction effect occurred when heavy Host traffic and 
heavy store and forward traffic are present in a single IMP. A 
stand-alone program in the UCLA Sigma-7 was used to generate 
traffic from the Host to itself via the IMP. We then arranged 
for RAND and UCSB to exchange message generator traffic in both 
directions through UCLA as an intermediate node. Finally, the 
$ 
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eport No. 2003 Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
.j 60-- 
 40-- 
' 20-- 
c) 
o 
o 
REASSEMBLY LIMIT 
:54 B U F F E R,. 
I0 BUFFERS 
4 8 12 16 20 24 28 ;52 
STORE AND FORWARD LIMIT 
FIGURE 1 
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Report No. '2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
Host traffic and the store and forward traffic were allowed to 
occur simultaneously. No interaction effect was noted; i.e., 
there was no change in the number of Host messages and the number 
of store and forward packets when both types of traffic were 
present. 
We experimented with the Host line set at 500 kilobits/sec 
again using the UCLA stand-alone program in the Sigma-7. The 
maximum rate at which the dedicated Sigma-7 could be made to 
handle messages (through its accumulator channel) was about 250 
kilobits/sec and therefore the IMP was not able to be subjected 
to the planned maximum load. 
10 
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Report No. 2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
5, NETWORK CONTROL CENTER 
During the last quarter the network status changed from 
experimental to operational. A Network Control Center (NCC) 
was established at BBN in Cambridge to monitor the network, to 
take responsibility for attending to network trouble, and for 
handling coordination of network activity. 
St-at,S..,messages -are automatically, sent- f-rom. each-,-IMP. tq the 
N.C,C_.eery.-15  minutes' ' and more ot.en.whenimportant...changes occur. 
The messages are currently printed out in their entirety on a 
teletype connected to the BBN IMP, where they are monitored by 
BBN personnel during business hours. In the event of trouble, 
personnel at the Host site or the telephone company are called 
upon to help diagnose the problem and to select an appropriate 
plan to alleviate the roblem. The status reports are also used 
to tabulate network up time. 
An effort is currently underway to automate the process of 
reducing and tabulating the status data. When this effort is 
complete, we plan to share our line information with the telephone 
company via a low-speed connection and are prepared to have them 
accept a larger share of responsibility in maintaining their 
circuits. The NCC has the capability of determining the status 
and quality of each line in the network and the telephone company 
frequen!y calls the NCC at BBN to inquire about the status of 
lines. 
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Report No, 2003 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
The NCC also serves the function of coordination when, for 
some reason, an IMP must be taken down. This action is sometimes 
necessary for the site personnel to test or modify their interface 
(hardware and software) or for Honeywell to repair or retrofit 
IMP equipment. 
The NCC has.distributed its telephone number to the sites 
and to the telephone company, with instructions to call any time 
they have network problems to report, 'or want to coordinate some 
network activity. The NCC telephone is manned from 8 a.m. to 
midnight eastern time, Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Saturday. Site and telephone company personnel have been very 
cooperative. 
12 
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IRICLASSIFIED 
ut lssiicton 
DOCUMENT CONTROL DATA-R & D 
(Security classification of title, body of abstrac and indexin nnotion nu be entered when /le overall report is classified) 
i. ORIGINATING ACTIVITY (Coworate autho 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
50 Moulton Street 
Cambridge, Mass.02138 
QUARTERLY TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 6 
1 April 1970 to 30 June 1970 
4, ESCRIPTIVE NOTES (pe ol report anincluive dates) 
REPORT SECURITY CLASSIFICATION 
UNCLASSIFIED 
GROUP 
5. AUTHOR(S) ('First name, middle initial, last name) 
Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. 
6- REORT DATE 7a, TOTAL NO. OF PAGES J7b, NO, OF REFS 
July 1970 13 
ga. ORIGINATOR'S REPORT NUMBER(S) 
8a. CONTRACT OR GRANT NO. 
DAHC 15-69-C-0179 
b. ROJECT NO. 
1260 
BBN Report No. 2003 
gb. OTHER REPORT NO(S) (,Any other numbers that may be assigned 
this report) 
t0. DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT 
I- SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES J 12, SPONSORING MILITARY ACTIVITY 
Advanced Research Projects Agency 
Washington, D.C. 20301 
3, ABSTRACT 
The basic function of the IMP computer network is to allow large exist- 
ing time-shared (Host) computers with different system configurations to 
communicate with each other. Each IMP (Interface Message Processor) 
computer accepts messages for its Host from other Host computers and 
transmits messages from its Host to other Hosts. Since thmre will not 
always be a direct link between two Hosts that wish to communicate, 
individual IMPs will, from time to time, perform the function of trans- 
ferring a message between Hosts that are not directly connected. This 
then leads to the twobasic IMP configurations -- interfacing between 
Host computers and acting as a message switcher in the IMP network. 
The message switching is performed as a store and forward operation. 
Each IMP adapts its message routine to the condition of those portions 
of the IMP network to which .it is connected. IMPs regularly measure 
network performance and.report in special messages to the network 
measurement center. Provision of a tracing capability permits the net 
operation to be studied comprehensively. An automatic trouble reporting 
capability detects a variety of network difficulties and reports them 
to an interested Host. An IMP can throw away packets that it has receiv- 
ed but not.ye acknowledged, transmitting packets to other IMPs at its 
own discretion. Self-contained network operation is designed to protect 
and deliver messages from the source Host to the destination IMP. 
DD ,7f.14 73 (PAGE 
UNCLASSIFIED 
------------------------------<page break>-----------------------------
 UNT,ATTRD 
 Security Classificton 
't4, t LINK A LINK B LINK C 
KEY WORDS 
ROLE WT ROLE WT RDLE WT 
Computers and Communication 
Store and forward communication 
ARPA Computer Network 
Honeywell DDP-516 
IMP 
Interface Message Processor 
DD ,7o".1473 (BACK) UNCLASSIFIED 
S/N 0501 '807-682 Security Classification A-31 09 
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